Monthly Archives: September 2016

Sussex copywriting

Getting to know your reader

Simple ideas for getting to know your reader better.

Imagine you’re hosting a family reunion. Great granny is there, your teenage niece and that awkward in law who you all avoid. As host you probably have to mingle, making small talk as you go to help everyone relax and enjoy themselves.

With each family member, each generation and each family odd bod, you adjust what you say as well as how you say it. What you say to great granny is different to what you say to toddler Tom, awkward in law and quirky cousin Kate.

You ask young Charlie how his football is going and if he’d like the kit your son has grown out of and you joke with your cousin about the effects of growing old. In other words you tweak and adjust your conversation to all the different individuals so that it’s relevant and interesting to them. Otherwise you’d just be the family bore who only ever talks about themselves!

Who's reading your stuff?

Who’s reading your stuff?

Don’t be the bore or sender of spam!

And that’s what you need to do with your writing in order for it to really resonate. Adjust it. Perhaps only slightly but adjust it so that you use the words and style that is most appropriate for your target audience. Talk about things that you know will interest them. Use analogies they’ll relate to. In other words, talk to them in their language.

You do so instinctively at your family party because you know everyone so well. And that’s what you need to do with your reader. Get to know as much as you possibly can about who you are writing to; your avatar, your persona, your ideal client and then talk to them in a way they will relate to.

And yes I said talk to them, not write to them. Because you want your writing to be personal and conversational too. Not the Dear Sir sort of stuff we all so often receive.

Being specific

When I started out, I found pinning down my ideal target really difficult for a number of reasons. First, and this is a common one, I had trouble with the idea of writing to someone specific, for fear of alienating lots of other potential clients.

But the bottom line is you just have to get your head around this. If you try and write to everyone, you will engage no one, it’s that simple. Your writing will come across as bland and spiritless. You have to pin down who your target is as specifically as possible and write just for them. It may be a leap of faith but you’ll get much, much better results if you do!

Write to someone specific, not a blank face

Write to someone specific, not a blank face

Know yourself

This might seem obvious but it’s often harder than you think. Make sure you have a real understanding of the problems that your product or services solve. Think about what is different about you and your business, how do you transform lives rather than the more technical aspects of your products. Make sure you know and understand your business personality and how you want to be perceived.

I’ll be dealing with this next week, so if you’re not sure about it, stick around for that one.

The good news

My other problem was, I held on to a belief that I needed to do complex and expensive market research in order to get the information I needed about my audience. But actually, although there are lots of sophisticated things you can do to find out more about your target, there’s a lot of commons sense and everyday stuff you can do too without spending a dime.

Getting started

Find out all you can

Find out all you can

Identify who your target is. Age, sex, background, income etc. If needs be give them a name and even a photo. Start with any existing customers or your data base. What common features do they have and what are your most popular products? What can you learn from this? What can you learn from your social media followers and their profiles? What do they like and what about your competitors? What do you know about their client base?

Where are your ideal clients hanging out? Are there online forums where you might find them, LinkedIn groups or Facebook pages? What pages or posts do they like and what do they share? Perhaps they actually meet somewhere (whoa, can you imagine that!).

But a word of caution. I’m not suggesting you tout your wares in these places. I’m suggesting you watch and learn. What are they discussing, what language do they use and what questions come up over and over again? You’ll learn a lot about these people by just mingling a bit and listening to what’s being said.

Then hop on over into their shoes for a bit and try and see life from their point of view. What hobbies do they enjoy? What makes them mad? What makes them laugh out loud?

More simple stuff

What about doing a survey or just asking for feedback? Keep surveys short and easy (and consider an incentive) or just ask your best clients what they need more of or like best. If you can, why not meet them for coffee and find out more about them?

Do a survey

Do a survey

Make sure that whatever you learn, you write down in a fact file. Some of the information may not be relevant but the more you learn and gather, the more you can put together a really precise picture of who you are writing to. And that means that when you write to them, it will be really personal to them. You’ll consciously and unconsciously tweak your language and your content because you know what they like, how they talk and what interests them.

Make it personal

Better still, as you get to know your reader better, they’ll get a really personal experience from you. It should feel like you are writing just to them, that one individual, Joe Bloggs. In fact I know so much about my avatar that I know what your hobbies are, where you holiday and where your children go to school (ok well not quite because that’s a bit creepy but you get the gist).

Don’t shelve this for another day

Research one thing a day

Research one thing a day

I know you’ve got a lot on. I know researching your target audience seems like one more thing that you have to do. So to make it easier, why not commit to finding out just one thing a day about your target audience for the next 7 days. Just one thing a day. See what you learn and then take it from there.

Next week, the fun part … finding your brand personality and voice! So please stick around.

 

 

 

Sussex copywriting

Have you got a plan?

Planning your content – the first step to success.

As the age old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know how to get there or when you arrive! And the evidence consistently shows that those people who have a clear goal or goals are significantly more likely to achieve major milestones.

content planning

Knowing what you want to achieve is particularly important when it comes to your content writing and in fact helps inform all sorts of other decisions that you need to make. You’ll find it much easier to come up with ideas and know where to post if you have a clear idea of what you’re going to write when and better still, you’re much more likely to get stuff written!  So if you haven’t got a plan yet, here’s how to get started:

1. Give yourself a content audit

Before you start thinking about objectives, take a moment or two to think about what you’ve done thus far. What content have your produced and how frequently? What worked, what didn’t? What did you enjoy and what felt like pulling teeth? Did you have any aims, did you meet them and how did you monitor your results?

Were the blogs you’ve written successful? If not, why not? Was it your content, your writing style or perhaps where you were posting them? Did you post frequently enough and if not, was it time, inspiration or because you hate writing that held you back?

If you think your could be a success, what do you need to do now? Outsource the writing, make a commitment and find more time or perhaps find out more about your target audience and what they need or want.

2. Setting clear and specific aims

A thorough audit of what you’ve been doing will help to inform your decisions when it comes to setting goals and your plan will almost write itself.  Add into the mix what you want to achieve and by when. Be as specific as you can be. Then work out what you need to do to achieve it.

content planniing

Set goals and plan your content accordingly

Do you need to write a newsletter more frequently, run a very targeted campaign, work on pinning down your target audience and where they hang out? You should have some bigger goals too, perhaps as part of your one year or three year plan. If you do, then it may help to  break these down into 3 month or 6 month targets.

3. Use a content planner and calendar

In my view, a content planner and calendar is essential and it isn’t hard to set up. Below is a screen shot of a very simple excel spreadsheet which allows for a weekly blog. You want to include a column for: the date, the topic or content idea, relevant keywords, the date to be published, where it was published and how successful it was (likes, shares, comments etc). It’s also worth prepopulating your calendar with relevant events.

Finally build in quarterly reviews of your website content. It’s easy to forget to update or refresh your website and this acts as a reminder. Then stick it on the wall so it’s easy to view.

content planner

Create your own content planner

It’s up to you exactly how you create your calendar but I find planning 3 months in advance works well. And don’t panic. You don’t have to write all your content this early. I prefer to map out 3 month’s worth’s of ideas and then write in blocks of 4, once a month.

4. Now you’ve got a plan

The final element of your plan is making yourself accountable. Buddy up if that works for you, pay someone to act as a reminder or just announce it to the world. Once you’ve expressed your intention you’re much more likely to stick with it.

You’ve taken the trouble to read this far (and I thank you) so now, don’t go to the pub just yet or back to your work. Spend a little time planning your content. It won’t take long but it will pay dividends.

Sussex copywriting

Dust off your snow boots and stockings and get ready!

Your “10 Step – Get Ready” Autumn Content Plan 

2016-07-19-09-02-53We all know that it’s full throttle now up to Christmas Eve and decorating the tree. But autumn is such a productive time and you really do need to hit the decks running with your content. I hope you spent your summer holidays planning your strategies and writing your content but if you didn’t (really?) here’s a quick check list to give you a kick start up the whatnot and then guide you through until Santa calls:

1. What writing and marketing activities are you doing or planning to do? A newsletter, blog, some advertising? Anything else? Why have you chosen these?

2. How consistent have you been so far and what sort of results have you got (you are monitoring your activities aren’t you?)?

3. Bearing in mind your answers to the above, do you need to revisit your activities? Can you blog more frequently, do you need help to ensure you’re more consistent or do you need to try something in addition? How is your social media for example?

4. OK this is the big one …what do you want to achieve with your content in the run up to Christmas? Be specific. More followers or subscribers? How many? Or perhaps you want to raise awareness of a new product, service or event? The more specific you are, the more focused your writing will become.

5. Now that you know what you want to achieve, start planning what you need to do to achieve it?  content planning Is a newsletter really the best way or would blogging be better? Do you need to start posting somewhere different? In other words, what do you need to write, how often and where do you need to post it so that your target audience finds it? Nail this and you’ve nailed your autumn strategy but make yourself accountable; you’ll be so much more likely to achieve your goals. If you have no one to tell, tell me and I’ll add you to my CRM and send you a gentle (not) reminder when your content is due.

6. What about your target or your avatar (call them what you will)? They are of course the most important part of what you do. What problems have they got, that you can help with? You should always focus on them not you! So make sure you’ve got a clear idea of who they are and what makes them tick? I’ll be blogging about this soon but meanwhile, spend a little time putting together a fact file about them.

7. And what about you, have you got a clear idea of your writing style and brand personality? I’ll cover this too in a blog coming to you soon but again, start putting together a fact file.

8. Think about any imagery you need. I personally hate stock images but occasionally needs must and it is worth making sure you have an easy to access source at the outset. Otherwise, it can become a reason not to hit publish. You might want to use your own but make sure they are good quality (ha ha not like mine!).

9. Check your website. Is it up to date or could it do with a freshen up? It’s amazing how quickly they date and don’t forget to include any new products or services.

10. You’re nearly ready. Spend a little time jotting down some ideas and topics or email me if you need some inspiration for what to write about. Now just start writing. You can edit later. I’ll be blogging about writing habits and hacks soon but for now…just start and the rest will follow! 

Good luck, you have begun! Next week I’ll be blogging about planning your actual content but I promise, all this planning really pays off. And I also promise not to mention Christmas again!  

Copywriter and public speaker

What’s on at Strood Copy this month

2016-07-19-21-38-22Running around like a headless chicken trying to get back into the swing of work?  As it all feels a bit complicated once more pulling the threads of life together, I’ve put together an at a glance guide of what’s going on at Strood Copy. Some networking opportunities, speaking opportunities and a few presentations and workshops thrown in by me to help you in your endeavours. Hope to see you at one of the following:

Week commencing 12th September

Horsham Speakers Club resumes its schedule on the 13th.

I’m presenting ’10 ways to improve your copy’ at Newhaven Basepoint on the 15th.

FW in Horsham  – our speaker is Heather Joy, ‘Marketing on a shoe string budget’.

Week commencing 19th September

I’m away all week on a press trip.

Week commencing 26th September

The Copy Cabana Conference in Bournemouth on the 28th. Some of the industry’s finest will be speaking. Can’t wait.

The Going for Gold FW event on the 29th in memory of the one and only Rob Sedgewick. I’ll be talking about how to inspire your readers and there’s going to be lots of other inspirational speakers too. An emotional day I suspect.

Week commencing 3rd Oct

My Nail your Mail Workshop on the 7th. A couple of places still available, just email me to book.

Ok, that’s it. Pens at the ready and let’s get to it. And just get in touch if you want to know more about any of the above, lucy@stroodcopy.com.